WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Grocery store ethics: Does this seem right to you?

Posted May 30, 2015

Produce department

I witnessed something in the grocery store yesterday that has been bothering me and I would like your opinion.

A mom and her adorable daughter were in the grocery store at the same time I was there. We ended up in many of the same aisles as we shopped. The little girl was about 4 years old and pushing one of the mini grocery carts for kids. You know, the ones that tear up your ankles when your kids are behind you and run you over.

Mom had put a number of items in the cart including a bag of grapes. In every aisle, the little girl was eating multiple grapes. At one point, she had backed up the aisle for other shoppers who wanted to get by because she stopped to snack so the mom turned around and told her to hurry up. She clearly saw that the child was eating the unpurchased product.

I know some people open packages in the store to appease their kids while they are shopping and pay for them at the register when they check out. In that case, although it is questionable, at least the full amount of the product will be paid when it's a bag of Goldfish or box of animal crackers. In this case, the weight the mom will pay for the grapes will be the amount left over after the daughter enjoys her snack while shopping. I was in the produce dept. when they first got there and I did not see them pay for the product before continuing to do the rest of their shop. The grapes were charged per pound and not pre-weighed per bag.

Is this an accepted practice for parents of young kids these days?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


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  • 3boys3 May 31, 2015

    The child does not know, however, the parent does! This is the same as stealing! Parents are liable if their children don't attend school, as the school steps in to hold the parent accountable. The same should occur in this situation; get "a bag" of grapes and weigh, then charge the parent!

  • sassydog2 May 31, 2015

    I personally do not think it is right, fair or ok for adults or children to eat produce before buying it. As you stated, it is usually paid for by the pound. When I was growing up, if I had wanted to eat while grocery shopping, my parents would have gone & paid for the produce ahead of time. Why is that practice no different than taking the bag of grapes & walking out the door, same principle as you are stealing. Unless it is a medical emergency(example someone with low blood sugar) I personally think it is wrong. If you feel the need to eat while shopping take your own snacks unless you shop at a store like Harris teeter who usually has fruit, meats & cheeses already cut up & on a toothpick for the tasting.

  • RaleighFoodBlogger May 31, 2015

    Faye- not surprised and glad you went to the source to get the answers. In my experience, HT especially, is great about helping out if you ask, plus have a great return policy, especially on produce :-)

  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper May 31, 2015

    A couple people here and on the Smart Shopper FB page posted in this thread that the employees at the stores that they shop at said it was ok for their kids to eat like this so I thought I would talk to a few store employees myself, including produce dept. employees and managers.

    Not surprisingly, their answer was very different. The produce dept employee said he sees it all the time and not just from kids. He said he says something to people he sees eating un-weighed food before purchase. The manager I spoke to also said that in their store they encourage customers to request a sample of an item if they want to make sure it will be sweet enough but that he did not think it was ok to sample grapes on your own to taste sweetness. He did say that if you just ask, they are happy to provide a sample.

    I plan to ask a number of stores the same question, but it appears that this is a widespread issue and stores are not happy about it.....of course.

  • heremeaj May 31, 2015

    As so many people have stated the grocery stores are chock full of free samples and ways to feed hungry children - why would people not avail themselves of those generous samples that are there for you to take for free? If those are not foods you want you child to eat then it is easy enough to plan and bring a snack(cheese stick, Cheerios, etc.) with you to the store. I know it is possible to have a child and BE a child w/o violating the ethics of the store because people have done it for generations. When I grew up you would NEVER have seen people taking food they had not paid for in a store and the age of a person was no excuse.

  • quemaster May 31, 2015

    Both the parent and the child suffer from NHT. No Home Training. It is stealing and terrible parenting. I have NO issue with a bag chips, cookies, string cheese, etc. where you pay and it is not a "weigh it" item. I'm not known for holding my tongue so I'd have said something. PLUS, how unsanitary is that anyway! UGH!

  • jdouglas13 May 30, 2015

    I have no problem drinking a bottle of Diet Coke while I'm shopping, but you can be sure it makes it on the belt with everything else I'm purchasing.

    I hate to say it, but I've seen Moms giving their kids stuff to eat (that should be weighed) so often over the years that I hardly notice now. Is it right? No way. Is it stealing? If it is more than a single grape or cherry to see if they are ripe, yes.

    FWIW, I do feel funny about testing that one grape or cherry, but haven't figured out a way around that yet so that I don't get burned with bad produce.

  • jabbo22 May 30, 2015

    This is stealing, plain and simple. I never let my kids eat from the grocery store before the food was bought. Plus, produce is dirty! (Just let the fruit sit in water for a while & drain--look at the dirt in the bottom of the bowl!) But I do remember when I was first out on my own, my roomie and I would get a bag of bulk candy (malted milkballs), and get it weighed. Then eat the entire bag while shopping and pay for an empty bag at checkout. PS--I hate those little carts that kids can push! :)

  • caroline23 May 30, 2015

    I think it depends on the store. Some stores are perfectly fine with it. When my kids were little, they had a virtual buffet of food available to them at Publix stores. They could sample a chicken tender, have some pickled ginger from the sushi section, a cookie from the bakery, etc. If I ever let them have a banana, I would ask the cashier to weigh one twice to pay for it Some groceries honestly want to keep little kids happy, because that means their mommas will shop there. Other stores have different policies, and it's up to the shopper to be sure they know the rules. Did you actually check with the manager and see if it's okay? You might be surprised...

  • mcondor May 30, 2015

    I fully agree with the majority - the grapes need to be washed, and encourages petty stealing.

    The one item that I saw several times has to do with "not eating something I have not paid for"

    Well if you go to any kind of sit down restaurant with table service don't you eat to your full desire before paying?